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While many professionals still seek a “traditional MBA” at a full time program, a growing number of the best programs have evolved their offerings to meet the needs of all students, not just “traditional” ones. Technology affords some unique benefits to those seeking a master’s degree in business, including flexibility. The good news? You do not need to sacrifice quality to find flexible online MBA programs.

We spoke with some of the top online MBA programs about various factors to consider when choosing an online MBA program.

West Texas A & M University is a Top 25 Online MBA Program

The Importance, and Benefits, of Flexibility for MBA Students

At the Engler College of Business at West Texas A & M University, many of the students in the online MBA program are middle managers working a full-time job seeking opportunities for promotion within an existing or aspirational company. Current program enrollment includes a diverse student body across 47 different states across the United States and 21 different countries.

The program caters to work/life balance consideration without compromising quality. For example, the 13-week fall semester ends before Thanksgiving in an effort to give students substantial time to interact with faculty and peers via a long semester, but ends before the start of personal and professional holiday season obligations.

At Hofstra University, students like the flexibility that online MBA courses provide where they don’t have to come to class at a fixed time and can go through the material on their own schedule. While this flexibility is important for them, they also like the structure of the program where a 16-month completion is guaranteed in the cohort plan with the option of extending the program duration if they need it. The cohort structure also helps students form the peer group that most of them feel is necessary for successfully completing the program. A recent adjustment to the program's credits also allows students to conveniently schedule a 2nd MBA major as an option within a 20-month cohort duration.

Some programs offer the best of both worlds - a combination of online and on-campus options. The Babson MBA is offered in a blended learning format: students take core classes online in lockstep with their cohort, traveling to campus approximately every 7 weeks for face to face class sessions. The program uses the best teaching pedagogy for online learning but gives students the opportunity to learn and network in an onsite environment. The program is ideal for students who want flexibility but also benefit from an in-person learning environment. In fewer than 21 months, working professionals who value the in-person networking benefits of a cohort-based MBA but who need the flexibility of online course content can complete their degrees while maintaining their full-time jobs. Students can expect to complete the majority of their coursework online through dynamic case-based discussions and remote group work with their peers.

Babson University Students in a group setting

Hesitant About Accredited Online MBA Programs, and Balancing a Full Time Job?

Sometimes prospective West Texas A & M students express concern about the level of engagement and interaction that occurs with the online format. They offer several examples of how the online format, much like the modern real-world work environment, facilitates strong peer and faculty interaction…

  • Students watch introductory videos made by the faculty to complement the course syllabi so students feel prepared and familiar with professors upon starting their courses.
  • Group projects, as part of required course work, create a strong student network with project completed in coordination across multiple locations, time zones, and countries.

The Babson admissions team makes it clear that students earning the MBA part-time in the blended format are NOT getting a diluted version of the program. Part-time students have access to the same courses, faculty members, experiential learning opportunities, intensity tracks, and academic centers as full-time students. The blended MBA at Babson is ranked No. 3 in the United States and No. 6 overall by Financial Times.

Hofstra discusses this concern with prospective students in terms of the content of online courses compared to face-to-face courses. They emphasize that online MBA students receive the same course content and the same MBA degree from the same faculty who teach in the on-campus program. One other concern among their prospective students is how to handle the workload with a full-time job. This is allayed through examples and stories of virtually every other student who have completed the program successfully as to how they were able to balance the program’s requirements with their full-time job requirements.

Hofstra Student and Professor Interact

Best Advice for Applicants From 3 Top Accredited Online MBA Programs

”Students should have a learning objective and professional goals in mind when considering a program. The learning objective helps determine if program curriculum is robust enough to achieve said objective. Professional goals are important to consider as some MBA programs tend to specialize in taking experienced professionals and helping them position for promotion, while other MBA programs cater more toward emerging professionals that seek first job placement. Visiting with program advisors about objectives, goals, curriculum, affordability, faculty qualifications/experience, and student support are keys to finding a program that is the right fit for specific student learning objective and professional goals.” – Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, West Texas A & M University
”One of the key aspects of a good program is the quality of research produced. Quality is defined by a few factors. Look at if full-time faculty teach the courses over adjuncts hired primarily to deliver the online courses. Research accredited Online programs only and definitely review the ranking of the program. Go with programs that have an established and long-standing MBA program on campus as most good online programs have evolved from the on-campus programs. All of these factors contribute to the quality of the program being evaluated.” – Hofstra University - Frank G. Zarb School of Business
”Do your homework: know the school and program you are applying to (beyond what’s offered on the website). Connect with a recent alum who can share their experiences inside the classroom. We have over 41,000 alum in 119 countries and they are a great resource for those considering a Babson MBA. Faculty members also are a great way to learn more about the program. At Babson, our engaged faculty weave relevant research with real-world expertise and are eager to support student success.” – Babson College - F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Blended Learning MBA